Tha Boogie -The Viper Room - 9/21/11
Better than...waffles with butter.
When you get the blessing of Raphael Saadiq, you must be doing something right. In the case of Tha Boogie, he confirmed that they were on the path to something big, after they first started out as teenagers in the Inland Empire.
The Rancho Cucamonga outfit blends elements of ska, funk, alt rock and R&B. There's been a change in the lineup since we last caught up with them. Korus left the band and they added eL, who fit in as well with original members Nu-Skool and Lejin as anyone could, especially since she had only practiced with the band twice. Whenever they perform live, Lejin leaves the drum kit and joins Nu-Skool and now, eL, to form a formidable trio with great energy.
For their first public gig in several months, Tha Boogie sounded as sharp and polished as ever. After playing the grueling industry showcase circuit, the band looked confident and comfortable on stage. Usually, it takes a group with new members a few gigs to regain their comfort zone, but last night, the band showed why they've been talked about.
After playing showcases to stuffy industry insiders for the past several months, last night's gig was a chance for the trio to play in a more relaxed environment. According to their manager, they were looser on stage than they'd been, and their spirit was reflected in terrific versions of the '50s rock inspired "Don't Flush Me Out," and their soulful cover of Os Mutantes' "Panis et Circensis."
Last night, the three principal members were backed by an additional five-piece band, which complemented them well. The trio was vibrant and the crowd fed off their energy. Nu-Skool and Lejin took turns hyping crowd with their slick choreography, while eL, who bears a striking resemblance to Paula Abdul circa 1988, had a confident swagger.
Finishing a way-too-quick 35 minute set with "Running Running" -- an uptempo, R&B-driven number -- the audience screamed for more, but the kibosh was put on that when the lights came on. No matter; folks who attended the show likely saw the potential that Saadiq, the man who has produced artists such as D'Angelo, Mary J. Blige and John Legend, heard when he first started working with the group.
Fortunately if you weren't able to attend last night's gig, they'll be playing a headlining the Viper Room again on October 7, as the first date of their upcoming tour.
Personal Bias: Watching people of all ages, races and sexes jumping around and losing their shit was amazing.
Random Notebook Dump: The Viper Room on a Wednesday night can be a fun place. Seriously, not all Sunset Strip joints are horrible.
Set list below